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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Women's Track and Field | Despite sour Nationals aftertaste, season was a success

It's hard to look at this women's indoor season as anything but a success. While Nationals may have left the girls with a bad a taste in their mouths, the overall improvement across the board was overwhelming.

"Almost everyone had a personal record in at least one event if not all of their events in every facet of track," coach Kristen Morwick said, naming a laundry list of improvements for the team. "We just showed more depth and quality this year. I think it was a really good season."

Numbers shaped the season for the Jumbos. Four school records were taken down. Three people were individual champions at the Div. III New England Regional Championship. Eight Jumbos went to Nationals.

But one number the team would like to look past is zero, which was the number of All-Americans who returned from St. Olaf College last weekend.

"I think Nationals was just a lot of bad luck," senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom said. "I'm pretty confident that people will just take it as a learning experience and move on and keep going."

The team went into the season with two goals: to vie for the Div. III New England title and to send competitors to Nationals. The team succeeded on both fronts, although they came up short in bringing home hardware on either.

Tufts went into Div. III's knowing that it would be an uphill battle to unseat three-time champion Williams. The Jumbos turned it on against the Ephs, with Bloom, junior Sarah Crispin and sophomore Catherine Beck all winning individual events. Bloom took the 600 meters (1:37.23) although running the event for only the second time in her career, while Crispin set a new school record with her win in the 1,000 meters (2:59.11).

Sophomore Catherine Beck took down Williams senior Caroline Cretti in the mile (5:00.66) and took second in the 3,000 meters, setting a personal record with a time of 9:54.57. Sophomore Katy O'Brien took second in the 800 meters (2:14.61) and qualified provisionally for Nationals.

The Jumbos had athletes picking up points in many different events, as freshman Paula Dorman took fourth in the shot put, sophomore Sarah Martin added points in the weight throw and senior tri-captain Megan Sears added a fifth-place finish in the pentathlon in her first meet back after an ACL tear. The Jumbos showered each other with support as they watched both the distance medley and 4x400 relays take first place.

"The biggest thing at that meet was that everybody was going psycho for each other," Bloom said. "You could just feel the team unity. It was amazing."

The team just could not combat the Ephs' depth, however, as Williams edged out the Jumbos 154-122.33. The next-closest-scoring team at the meet was Amherst, with 66 points.

"We were probably two events shy of the title and it's hard ... against a Williams team that's so deep," Morwick said.

Tufts had a lot of success on the individual level as well. Beck was named the NCAA New England Regional Athlete of the Year and set two school records over the course of a terrific season. She now owns school records in the mile (4:55.39) and the 5,000 meters (17:09.18) and qualified nationally in both events. O'Brien and Crispin both qualified for Nationals in the 800 and mile, respectively, as did senior tri-captain Becca Ades in the 5,000 meters.

The team also qualified many more runners individually for the All-New England Championships than in previous seasons. Those runners included freshmen Susan Allegretti and Evelyn Sharkey in the 1,000 meters and junior Kate Makai in the 600. Junior Maggie Clary also competed at the meet in the pentathlon.

Many Jumbos set new personal bests this season, including Dorman, who did so on a weekly basis, and Martin, who set a new school record at the Trinity Last Chance Meet in the weight throw (46'02"). Sophomore Jenna Weir came back from an injured shoulder at the end of the season to set a personal best in the long jump, while sophomore Joyce Uang set a new personal record in the 400 meters. Senior Arielle Aaronson also cut almost a minute off her 5,000 meter personal best.

"There are a lot of people who, even if they weren't at the top of our team, had big performances for them, which means we're a deeper team," Morwick said.

But for the Jumbos, that zero may be the number that sticks. The team's two relays, the DMR and the 4x400 relay, ended up in last place, and the two individual competitors were unable to provide Tufts with an All-American.

"We're a step away from performing at the highest level," Morwick said. "You've got to get consistent before you can do great things, and what we lack is consistency."